A change to our back office software affecting all services

The existing software used by North Norfolk District Council for the processing of all planning applications including Listed Building Consent, tree works and pre-application advice requests), building control applications, enforcement investigations and land charge searches will no longer be supported by the provider in the near future. As a result we have invested in upgrading to a new product called UNIform.

This new platform offers a planning management system that is more in line with modern business practices and technology. The product is a recognised leader in the field and is used by almost all other Norfolk Local Planning Authorities. The software provider has committed to supporting and developing the product into the foreseeable future.

The introduction of UNIform delivers immediate efficiencies to the authority in terms of both service delivery and customer service. It will mean easier tracking of application progress online, allowing you to self-serve and find out more easily about the progress of applications. Once the new system is live, further development will be undertaken to realise more process efficiencies and greater customer service.

When will the new system go live?

We will suspend the existing system from Friday 13 November 2020. We will then extract and convert the data between the systems with quality checking undertaken to check accuracy. The new system will be live from Monday 7 December 2020 for all new and existing applications and enquiries within the service.

Between these dates the system will be unavailable, however you will still be able to view applications online through Public Access. Consultees, town and parish councils, and the public will still be able to comment on existing undetermined applications, raise enforcement complaints, and request land charge searches.  Significant work has been undertaken to minimise the impact on the customer during this period with staff working extra hours to make sure of a smooth transition.

Uniform upgrade infographic

What will officers be doing during this time?

Officers will proactively communicate with agents and applicants using all parts of our service to provide advice on the progress of applications and enquiries. They will also be:

  • Undertaking training on the new system
  • Progressing elements of all types of applications and enquiries which are not impacted by the system unavailability, e.g. carrying out site visits and site inspections
  • Drafting recommendation reports on all types of applications
  • Responding to customer emails
  • Supporting additional customer contact calls resulting from downtime

How does this affect each area of our service?

Planning Applications

Officers will be preparing recommendation reports so that once the new system is available we can issue planning decisions. Development Committee will proceed as planned in November and December 2020 (with some reserve dates being used for important applications). Dates of future meetings can be found on the meetings calendar.

We will be unable to issue planning decisions so we will be asking agents and applicants for an extension of time to cover both the system unavailability and a short period afterwards to process any resulting backlog. Decisions will be issued in date order.

We will not be able to re-advertise any amended plans on any application. Any backlog will be addressed once the new system is available and resources are in place to aid a quick recovery.

Tree works applications

You will be advised if your tree work application is approved or refused. Please take the advice of the NNDC Tree Officer before works are undertaken. Emergency measures will be in place while the system is unavailable in the event that the Council has to take action quickly in respect of unauthorised works and Tree Preservation Orders.

New planning applications

New applications will not be able to be registered after Thursday 12 November 2020. It would assist us during this time for submission of applications to be delayed until after Monday 7 December 2020.

Applications submitted after Monday 26 October 2020 and which are invalid will have a reduced time for submission of information of 7 days. If this information is not provided by Thursday 12 November 2020 we will return the application to you and refund the fee.

If you are an agent, developer or applicant, officers will proactively contact you in regard to your planning application to inform you of progress. You may be asked for an extension of time to cover both the system downtime and a short period after to process any resulting backlog. Officers will be able to advise you if your application is approved or refused. If approved we ask that you wait until you receive the decision notice before any works are started on site as there may be conditions you need to be aware of.

Commenting on a planning application

If you are a statutory consultee, please keep submitting your comments online through Public Access or by email to planning@north-norfolk.gov.uk. It is important we receive your comments on time to help us move applications forward quickly post go-live.

If you are a Town and Parish Council, you may wish to consider additional meetings in December 2020 and January 2021 if you regularly receive large numbers of notifications of new applications.

If you are a member of the public, you can still comment on existing planning applications. Please use Public Access to submit your comments or email planning@north-norfolk.gov.uk.

We will try and accommodate any requests from all third parties for extensions to time frames for comments whilst being mindful of the need to determine applications.

Building Control

Due to the fewer number of building control applications submitted to the authority we are able to offer some level of service. Officers will be continuing to assess building control applications and undertake site inspections. New applications can still be submitted during the shutdown period, but there may be some delays in issuing paperwork to agents and builders as processes are manually recreated. As a result of this there will be some replication of processes post go-live.

Enforcement

Officers will be preparing recommendation reports so that once we are live we can advise on the outcomes of investigations or issue notices as necessary. Emergency measures will be in place during system downtime in the event that the Council has to take enforcement action quickly.

New enquiries and complaints will not be able to be registered until Monday 7 December but we will carry out initial site inspections.

Land Charges and Searches

New searches will not be registered after 5pm on Wednesday 11 November. During the shutdown period we will still be able to receive search requests by email, however these will be held until the new system is available. From Saturday 7 November customers will be able to send requests and receive search results online via Public Access for Land Charges (PALC) details of which will be available on our website soon.

Street Naming and Numbering

Applications for new addresses including street naming and numbering or changes to addresses (house and business names) may not be confirmed by Friday 13 November. New applications will not be registered after Thursday 12 November. We will continue to accept applications, however these will not be registered until week beginning Monday 7 December.

How are we dealing with any backlog?

Once the new system is available it will be the focus of all teams to catch up during normal working hours. However, if needed, more resource will be in place for weekend working to help address any backlog of new applications, enquiries and searches.

Thank you

We realise this will have an impact upon you and your customers. However we will be working hard to complete the transition as quickly as possible and we appreciate your cooperation and patience.

Frequently ask questions

Planning applications, pre-application enquiries and conservation, design and landscape

Will the Planning Department still be operating normally?

We will be working to keep the processes for existing planning applications moving forward. We have registered as many applications as possible before the shutdown of the system to make sure consultations are running. Officers will continue to carry out site visits (ensuring compliance with other procedures in respect of Coronavirus pandemic at present time).

We cannot issue any decisions during the shutdown period but officers will be keeping applicants up to date with progress on their applications during this period.

Will there be a delay in getting planning permission? What are the time frames for dealing with existing planning applications

We will be unable to issue decisions on planning applications. You may be asked for an extension of time to cover both the system downtime (3 weeks) and a short period afterwards (2 weeks) to process any resulting backlog. Officers will be able to advise you if your application is approved or refused. If approved we ask that you wait until you receive the decision notice before any works are started on site as there may be conditions you need to be aware of.

Once the system is live additional resource will be in place to catch up quickly with decisions being issued in date order.

Can people submit planning applications?

Yes. Planning applications can be submitted via the Planning Portal.

What will happen if I submit a new planning application at the moment?

Whilst we cannot register new applications we will be carrying out an initial validation of your application. We cannot check all site constraints so you may be required to submit additional information in the future once a full validation can be performed. We ask that you provide this information so once the new system is live up and running your application will be valid and can be processed more quickly. Once the new system is up and running additional resource is in place to enable us to catch up. We will formally acknowledge receipt of your application and advise of determination timescales. We will undertake all consultations and erect site notices once applications are registered.

Will the Council's consultation processes for Town and Parish Councils, Statutory Consultees and other consultees change? How are you getting responses from Consultees?

Consultation processes will remain the same with most consultations already issued electronically. We would kindly ask that consultees respond electronically via our Planning Public Access System or via email at Planning.Consultation@north-norfolk.gov.uk

Can I still submit comments on a planning application as a member of the public?

Yes. We have registered all applications submitted before Friday 13 November and consultations are running. Public Access will remain open for you to comment in the normal manner.

Once the new system is live we will be consulting on all applications received after the 13 November 2020.

As applicant or agent how can we get hold of case officers?

By email, please contact the case officer, providing a contact phone number so that the case officer can speak to you about your application. If the case officer email address is unknown please email planning@north-norfolk.gov.uk where we will send it to the relevant officer.

Are officers available for site visits or site meetings?

Yes. Officers will be undertaking site visits in accordance with our procedures to ensure the safety of site visits during the Coronavirus pandemic.

What happens to cases needing to be determined by Development Committee?

Whilst the Council is seeking to determine as many applications as possible before the shutdown of the system, some cases may still require a Committee decision. Committees are running throughout November and December as planned and details of dates can be found our meetings page. Please contact the case officer if you are unclear whether an application requires Committee Determination and to discuss the expected date for referral.

Can I still apply for pre-application advice? And if so will it be delayed?

As with formal planning applications, the pre-application advice service for planning, trees and listed buildings is continuing for existing enquiries. However, new enquiries cannot be registered until the new system is live. You can continue to apply and we will hold your enquiry until the new system is live.

You can apply for pre-application advice using our online form.

My application has already been submitted and is being significantly delayed - can I have a refund please?

Where we can we will determine current applications before the shutdown of the system. Where we cannot determine your application before shutdown we will ask you for an extension of time to cover the shutdown period (3 weeks) and a short period afterwards (2 weeks) to catch up. Where agreement is not possible, and where statutory time periods have already lapsed, you have the right to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate on grounds of non-determination.

Refunds will not usually be given for schemes already submitted and validated except where no decision is made within 26 weeks and no extension of time has been agreed. If you have already experienced delays with your application we apologise that this upgrade will cause a further delay. We cannot issue decisions during this shutdown period but resources are in place to help us catch up as quickly as possible. Once the system is live decisions will be issued in date order. We are grateful for your patience.

I don't have email or internet access - where do I send my letter of representation?

You can still submit representations by post at:

Planning Service
North Norfolk District Council
Holt Road
Cromer
NR27 9EN

Please note that there will be additional processing time for representations sent via post.

Trees

Someone is cutting down a tree. Is it protected? Do they have or need permission?

For information about trees please visit the Trees and Landscapes section of our website.

Will the Council do something about someone cutting down a tree?

We have measures in place to ensure we can respond to such notifications during the period while we have no system. If you do have concerns please contact planning@north-norfolk.gov.uk, mark it urgent and include as much information as possible. The Tree Officer will get back to you as soon as possible.

A tree is dangerous and I’m worried it is about to fall down. Will the Council come and have a look at it?

We have measures in place to ensure we can respond to such notifications during the period while we have no system. If you do have concerns please contact planning@north-norfolk.gov.uk, mark it urgent and include as much information as possible. The Tree Officer will get back to you as soon as possible.

Building Control

Will the Building Control Department still be operating normally?

We will be working to keep the processes for existing applications moving forward. We have registered as many applications as possible before the shutdown of the system. Officers will continue to carry out site visits (ensuring compliance with other procedures in respect of Coronavirus pandemic at present time). Officers will be keeping applicants up to date with progress on their applications during this period.

Will there be a delay in getting building control approval?

Applications will still be determined within the statutory timescales. Depending on the delays that may occur within our service or from your agent dealing with any clarifications, it may be necessary to reject your application. If this occurs we can approve the application when the necessary clarifications have been dealt with. We will try to communicate with you or your agent during the process to clarify what the position of your application is.

Can I still submit a Building Regulation Application?

Yes. Applications can be submitted at the Planning Portal or by email building.control@north-norfolk.gov.uk

What will happen if I submit a new Building Regulation application at the moment?

We will proceed with the validation and assessment of Building Regulation application. We will still issue a decision within the statutory time frames, however our ability to process and assess the applications may take longer than usual.

How does an applicant or agent get hold of Surveyors?

By email, please contact the case officer and provide a contact phone number so that the case officer can speak to you about your application. If the case officer email address is unknown please contact building.control@north-norfolk.gov.uk where we will send it to the relevant officer.

Are officers available for site visits or site meetings?

Officers will continue to carry out site visits (ensuring compliance with other procedures in respect of Coronavirus pandemic at present time).

Is pre-application advice available?

Yes. Please email through any enquiries. Please be aware these will be dealt with as a lower priority than current applications.

I don't have email - Where do I send my information with officers working remotely?

You can send representations by post to:

Building Control
North Norfolk District Council
Holt Road
Cromer
NR27 9EN

Please note that there will be additional processing time for information sent by post.

Planning Policy

Is work on the Local Plan still continuing?

Yes. Whilst officers are working at home due to the Coronavirus pandemic restrictions, the back office system upgrade does not affect the progress of the Local Plan. Please keep up to date by visiting our Local Plan page on our website.

Property searches

Can I still submit a property search?

Yes. New searches will not be registered but can still be submitted by email at electronic.search@north-norfolk.gov.uk

What measures are in place to catch up once the new system is in operation?

Extra resource is in place to catch up once the new system is live, and we expect a quick return to our excellent service standards.

How might this affect my property sale?

Hopefully this will not impact or delay a property sale, we will have extra resource to clear the backlog of applications once the new system is live.

Street naming and numbering

Can I still submit an application

Yes, please email the application to llpg@north-norfolk.gov.uk or call 01263 516048. Please note, we will not be able to process the application until week beginning 7 December 2020.

Enforcement

Can I still register a complaint?

Yes. Please use the online form to notify us of your complaint or email combined.enforcement@north-norfolk.gov.uk.

New enquiries and complaints will not be registered until 7 December 2020 but we will commence site inspections and initial investigations.

What will happen with my existing complaint?

Officers will be preparing recommendation reports so that once we are live we can advise on the outcomes of investigations or issue notices as necessary.

What if action needs to be taken quickly?

Emergency measures will be in place during system downtime in the event that the Council has to take enforcement action quickly.


Last updated: 19th November 2020